Long-Term Effects of Marijuana Abuse

While the true addictive nature of marijuana has been a topic of controversy for years, there is little doubt that long-term use will eventually have a negative effect on the user. Short-term effects are relatively well known, seeing as many major motion pictures and feature a character known as the “stoner” or “pot head”. Common side effects of short-term use include lowered reaction time, anxiety, paranoia, increased heartbeat, and sleepiness. Most of these side effects are completely harmless, and dissipate within several hours. Because there are no immediate dangers involved in smoking marijuana, many users believe it to be totally harmless. This is not the case.

Long-Term Effects of Marijuana Abuse

Because cannabis is illegal in most states, it has been difficult to conduct any prolonged studies on lasting effects of long-term use. However, studies that have been held have investigated both the positive and negative effects of long-term use. In many cases, marijuana is the first illicit substance adolescents are exposed to. The most widely used illicit drug in the entire Western world, well over half of the general population has experimented with marijuana at some point in time. Long-term exposure poses the risk of irreversible impairment of cognitive function to children and pre-pubescent adolescents that are exposed to the drug at an early age. In adults, however, long-term central nervous system effects of cannabis are entirely indistinguishable from any psychiatric disorders that may have been pre-existing.

Is Marijuana Addictive?

It has been estimated that somewhere between 10 and 20% of those who use marijuana on a daily basis will become dependent. Marijuana addiction has been a topic of debate for years, though evidence pointing towards eventual dependency is solid. Marijuana abuse is defined in the DSM-5 as a condition requiring treatment, and the rates of those being admitted to treatment facilities for the primary reason of marijuana addiction have been skyrocketing in recent years. While cannabis has far less addictive potential than drugs like methamphetamine and heroin, it has proven to be more addictive than drugs like LSD and mescaline. While no exceedingly harmful long-term effects of prolonged marijuana abuse are clear, the drug is known to worsen manic symptoms of bipolar disorder, anxiety, and other forms of psychosis. If you or someone you love is battling an addiction to marijuana, one of our trained representatives would be more than happy to assist in answering any questions you may have.

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